Tuesday, March 27, 2012

European Spanish

Tomorrow night I'll be in Barcelona.  I'm so psyched to visit.  Even though the primary language is Catalan, everyone speaks Spanish as well.  And it's the Spanish that I have to adjust to.

Just as there are differences between British English and American English, there are differences between European Spanish and Latin American Spanish.  Part of my family is Mexican and I grew up in Southern California so I'm used to Spanglish.  When I speak Spanish here people can immediately tell that I'm not European.  And when I listen to Euro-Spanish it just sounds so odd.

There is an urban legend that King Ferdinand of Spain spoke with a lisp.  And since no one wanted to make fun of the king, everyone just spoke like him.  Nice story but it isn't true.  

In Mexican Spanish, the letters Z, S, and C (before E or I) are all pronounced as an "S".  But in Spain, the "S-sound" is pronounced like "TH".  So instead of hearing Buenos Días you hear Buenoth DíathIt's like nails on a chalk board to me.

The other big difference is that European Spanish has an extra personal pronoun.  I'm used to using ustedes for "you (plural)" regardless if it is for formal or informal use.  Over here, ustedes is only the formal version of "you (plural)" and vosotros is the informal version of "you (plural).  I don't know vosotros or how to conjugate any verbs with it.

There are also lots of vocabulary differences.  Over the past few weeks, I've been making an extra effort to speak more Spanish so that I can get my ear used to the different speech.  Just for fun, here's part of a video that I found out on YouTube using Star Wars to compare Castellano (Castilian Spanish) and Español (Mexican Spanish).  Can you hear the differences too?

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